Driver in crash that killed biologist was unlicensed


An unlicensed 19-year-old Pittsburg man said he did not get much sleep the night before a fatal collision involving seven vehicles on Lakeville Highway in Petaluma on Tuesday, according to police.

Javier Rodriguez Lopez, the driver of a Chevrolet Silverado, and his 50-year-old father, a passenger, were traveling west on Lakeville Highway around 7:15 a.m. when the Silverado crossed solid, double-yellow lines, Petaluma police said.

The truck struck a Toyota Prius head-on, killing marine biologist Susan Lynn Williams, 66, of Bodega Bay, and a Honda Accord. Four other vehicles were damaged in the collisions, police said.

Lopez and his father suffered serious injuries and were taken to a hospital. Lopez told investigators he did not get much sleep the night before because he did not go to bed until 1 a.m. Tuesday and was potentially tired, police Sgt. Ron Klein said.

Lopez also said he failed the California driver’s test in 2017, and police confirmed he was unlicensed. Lopez’s father is a licensed driver, Klein said.

Lopez said he does not remember anything before the collision. There are no indications alcohol or drugs played a part in the collision, Klein said.

Lopez also said he was not using his cellphone, Klein said. Investigators recovered the phone from the Silverado and are determining whether it was in use at the time.

Williams was a marine biologist and past director of the University of California at Davis Bodega Marine Biology Laboratory in Bodega Bay and a distinguished professor at the university’s Department of Evolution and Ecology.

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